We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofTrami Vu

I have always been a person who felt shy and lacked self confidence. When I was nine years old I started to realize that I didn’t like to wear shorts, skirts or even dresses. The event that led me to this is because of my childhood. In primary school, I had very toxic friends. Whatever I wore, they made fun of. Whatever I did, chose, etc. was always being judged. Thus, part of me kept thinking that people around me judged me and therefore I grew insecure. I would get so traumatized about my look, my body, and about what other people think. Due to this I always care about how I should dress, what I should wear so that people around me can’t judge me. That's what I alway believed. My lack of confidence kept getting worse and worse as I grew older. I would often find myself caught in a cycle. I was paranoid that everyone around me thought I was weird. I couldn’t talk in front of lots of people or a new person I just met without feeling inadequate.  I have a hard time in school because of my low self-esteem which forbade me from asking questions in class. I was afraid of looking stupid in front of the class. Around eighth grade I remembered there was this one time I had to give a presentation in English class and I suddenly teared up in front of the class because I was scared of my accent, I thought my classmate would make fun of me. At that moment there were so many thoughts that circled my head. I was so embarrassed.  I remember how a group of boys in my history class who straight up called me ugly. Their words made me doubt myself even more. I felt insecure afterwards and I tried to avoid their negative comments about me but as I kept on thinking, it made me despondent.  After that I've been obsessed with being perfect and been living a life of insecurities rather than being who I want to be. Criticism from others and society still has the tendency to weaken my sense of self-worth. Low self esteem made it difficult for me to make even the most minor choices. It made me feel unsure and doubt my own abilities. At that time I thought that I was not worth a penny and did not deserve to be happy. I only felt good about myself as long as others supported me and approved of me. The moment when someone criticized me or withdrew their support, I started feeling bad about myself even more. When I was eleven years old a teacher told me something that changed how I saw myself. She said, “Nobody is perfect, everybody has their good and bad qualities so don't try to be perfect, just be you. The best gift you can give yourself is positive self esteem.” Her words made me realize that I must first believe in myself before others will believe in me. There’ve been many times I ask myself if my lack of self confidence is holding me back from being the best that I can possibly be. As a person, I’ve sought social acceptance to validate myself. I've let society dictate how I should appear, dress, and feel. However, I have decided to let go of the pressure. I have let go so that I can accept myself. I realized that if I worry too much about one particular negative thing then it will most likely keep happening to me. So I try as hard as I possibly can to not worry. I realized that I want to do things that make me happy and I want to keep it that way. 

© Trami Vu. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.